Above Board 17 February 2012
At the time of going to print, we have just come out of a meeting with Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile and other senior members of his department to discuss certain remarks he is reported to have made concerning government’s approach on sanctions against Israel. The substance of this important meeting will be addressed in my next column, as a statement from Mr Mashatile’s department must still be awaited. [Read the joint statement by the SAJBD and the SAZF following the meeting, and the release issued by the Ministry of Arts and Culture which were only available after Above Board went to print.]
There are nevertheless several points I would like to make, which relate to the above matter and which very much go to the heart of how the Board operates. There is a tendency amongst certain members of our community to jump to conclusions and even to overreact to what they read in the media. Certainly, things are reported that need to be followed up on, and what Mr Mashatile reportedly said certainly fell into that category. However, and as our meeting made clear, it would have been a serious mistake to have taken these comments at face value before first having heard from the minister himself the context in which they were made and what his broader views are. While it is certainly not the policy of the Board to sweep things under the carpet, we are always careful to establish exactly what the facts are before responding, and based on this to make a considered, responsible decision as to what will achieve the best outcome.
Our community feels very strongly about certain issues, and our connection to Israel is one of them. That being said, I would like to caution people not to be premature in their responses, which quite often can be counter-productive, but to allow for a reasonable wait-and-see period to elapse before coming to any fixed conclusions.
Schusterman Weekend – Growing Jewish Leadership
Our National Director Wendy Kahn, along with Cape Director David Jacobson and Dan Brotman, took part in a most stimulating weekend devoted to Jewish leadership training. This was run by the Schusterman Foundation, which runs innovative, forward-thinking training programme for Jewish communities the world over. As Wendy describes it, the two-day seminar exposed participants to a range of very remarkable individuals who are making a positive difference in our society, as well as the kind of impressive projects they are involved in. The Shusterman concept, she says, serves to highlight these projects, thereby becoming “a powerful vehicle for a cross pollination of ideas and a strengthening of initiatives through constructive connections”.
It was very encouraging to see the kind of high calibre people our community is producing, together with the enthusiastic young leaders who are coming through. Through nurturing these kind of contacts and facilitating innovative debates and exchanges of ideas, we will go a long way towards ensuring the future strength and viability both of our own communal institutions and of our ability, as South African citizens, to playing a meaningful role in building the greater society.
This Above Board column first appeared in the South African Jewish Report on 17 February 2012